Lamb (2021) – The Story Of Retribution For A Dispute With Nature. The Meaning Of The Film Lamb, Plot Analysis, The Explanation Of The Ending.
Country: Iceland, Sweden, Poland
Genre: Mystery, Drama, Horror, Fantasy
Year of production: 2021
Directed by: Valdimar Johansson
Actors: Numi Rapace, Hilmir Sner Gunason, Bjorn Hlynur Haraldsson, Ingvar Eggert Sigurdsson
tagline: “Mother. Nature”
Awards and Nominations: Nominated for the 2022 Oscar for Best Foreign Language Film
Lamb (Isl. Dýrið, Eng. Lamb) is an Icelandic folk drama, fantasy and horror film directed by Valdimar Johansson. This is the story of a childless family of farmers who adopt a mutant lamb with half the body of a child. The meaning of the film Lamb is in the interaction of man and nature, in the understanding of true motherhood, in the impossibility of avoiding retribution for trying to deceive fate.
What is the movie about
From the very first frames it is clear that this will be an exciting film, where much will not be obvious. Against the backdrop of an Icelandic winter landscape, a herd of wild horses slowly emerges in a white snowstorm. Suddenly, the animals startle and run away at the approach of an invisible creature. The viewer hears only the ominous sound of his breathing. Then this “something” enters the barn with sheep. They bleat fearfully until one of them staggers out of the pen. The meaning of all this will become clear with a detailed analysis of the film.
Maria (Numi Rapace) and her husband Ingvar (Hilmir Sner Gudnason). Frame from the film.
A married couple lives in a remote corner of Iceland, among mountains and endless valleys. Her name is Maria (Numi Rapace), his is Ingvar (Hilmir Sner Gudnason). They go about their daily household and household chores, hardly speaking to each other. They look neither happy nor unhappy, they just live among the beauties of nature and do what they are used to.
Only later does the solution arise of what gnaws at the spouses, what lies between them like a black abyss. But from the very beginning it is clear that they have experienced such intense joint pain that they cannot talk about it. After the winter thaw, farmers are experiencing an unusually busy lambing season. Maria and Ingvar give birth to females, the number of lambs goes to dozens. And one day, when almost all the sheep have lambed, the spouses hear the excited barking of a shepherd dog from the sheepfold.
One of the sheep can never be born. But when the fetus is finally born, the couple freezes in bewilderment. This is a hybrid of a child and a sheep, a half-man, something unearthly.
Maria immediately takes the unusual baby in her arms and carries it into the house. Together with her husband, they begin to take care of the baby lamb, bottle feed it, put a real crib for it. Later, Mary is seen calling for the unusual baby Hell, and this also has its own meaning.
Meanwhile, they are constantly pursued by a sheep – the real mother of lamb. She is on duty under the windows of the house, bleating plaintively. One day, coming from the farm, the couple does not find their daughter. After an hour of searching, they saw that the real mother had taken lamb girl far into the valley. Then Mary decides to deal with the sheep. Taking a gun from the house, she kills the animal, drags it away from the house and abandons it without even burying it.
Frame from the film.
In the second chapter of the film, Ingvar’s brother Petur (Bjorn Hlinur Haraldsson) unexpectedly appears at the couple’s house. He’s a failed pop star with a penchant for getting into trouble. His appearance frightens Maria, because she understands that this will upset the delicate balance in their family. Seeing an unusual child, Petur exclaims: “What the hell is this?!” “This is happiness,” Ingvar replies.
The third chapter begins very symbolically. Johansson decided to show the mood of the family through the description of pictures of nature. The atmospheric landscape, the strained breathing, the snorting and bleating of every animal in the barn, the clatter of their hooves on the rocky ground as they are let out to graze. Director of photography Eli Arenson masterfully captures the sheep in poses that directly express silent indignation. All this indicates that family harmony will be interrupted forever.
Petur is opposed to the baby. He sees the only explanation – this is a diabolical creature that should not live. In parallel, he constantly pesters Maria, perhaps hinting at a long history between them. He sees the baby lamb as a nuisance and decides to kill him. But at the last moment, he realizes that he can’t do it. The man hugs Ada in tears and from that moment on becomes a real loving uncle for her.
Petur is attracted to Maria. He does not hide this and even hints to the woman that he saw her kill Ada’s mother. There is a hidden meaning in these words – blackmail, the desire to achieve one’s own. But Maria, furious, locks the man in a closet and plays the piano to drown out his screams. The next day, she takes Petur to the highway and puts him on a bus, making it clear that he does not belong in their family.
Petur and lamb of Hell. The role of Ingvar’s brother was played by Bjorn Hlinyur Haraldsson. Frame from the film.
Meanwhile, Ingvar takes Ada with him and they go to the field to fix the tractor. On the way they are overtaken by a huge creature – a hybrid of a sheep and a man. Apparently, this is the real father of Ada. He fires a gun at the man and mortally wounds him in the neck. He then takes the frightened Ada by the hand and leads her away against her will.
Maria returns home and does not find her husband and daughter. She goes in search of them and sees a bloody Ingvar lying on the ground. He’s already dead. The woman does not understand what happened and looks around in horror.
The meaning of the ending of the film Lamb is that nature and fate in general always take their toll. They cannot be fooled or defeated. The spouses Maria and Ingvar went against these great forces, appropriating someone else’s child, changing their status.
But nature is stronger than man, no matter what form it takes. The huge mutant who killed Ingvar at the end of the film is simply doing justice. He takes back what was originally his.
The meaning of the film
Director Valdimar Johansson said in an interview that for him Lamb is not just a drama or horror, it is a visual poem. His grandparents were sheep farmers, he spent a lot of time on the farm and knew firsthand what life was like on it. He wanted to show his interpretation of the true unity of man with nature. That is why there are few dialogues in the film, in it people feel their surroundings, understand the language of animals, speak with “souls”, and not with language.
The slogan of the film, which can be seen on official posters, is interesting. These are two words: Mother and Nature, and the second is a reflection of the first. Everything is very symbolic. Modern people think that they are the rulers of this world. But the idea is that we are actually very small and insignificant! We will never be able to completely control nature or deceive it, for example, in matters of motherhood.
If a woman is unable to give birth or loses a child, this is not necessarily a punishment for something, you should not look for a hidden meaning in this. But Maria and Ingvar decided to play with fate and took away from nature what did not belong to them. They took someone else’s child and even took the life of his mother. The Russian translation of the film is very successful – not “lamb”, but “lamb”. This is a reference to the Bible, where Jesus was called that, who took upon himself the sins of mankind.
Frame from the film.
Lamb is loosely based on a story from Icelandic folklore and biblical motifs, but the director chose realism over special effects for a reason. The rural setting and drab weather add to the sense of the surreal atmosphere. Everything in this film is both very sweet and almost nightmarish, and a sense of unease permeates every frame of idyllic scenes.
Why do Ingvar and Maria have no children?
This becomes known only in the middle of the film, although earlier it is clear that there is some kind of pain between the spouses. Their child died in infancy. It was a girl whom they managed to name Ada. Maria and Ingvar drove this pain deep into their hearts, but she constantly ate them from the inside. Indeed, in this wilderness, in the midst of valleys, mountains and sheep, they had no one else dearer than each other and their lost daughter.
Who are Ada’s parents?
According to the plot, this is an ordinary sheep from a farm and a humanoid mythical creature. In the first frames, it comes to the sheep barn, but the meaning of this becomes clear only after. The mother sheep is very attached to her lamb. She constantly comes up to the house, bleating and as if asking people to return her child to her. But the couple appropriated lamb for themselves, for which they will pay at the end of the film.
What’s next for Ada?
Although the director does not talk about it in the content of the film, the viewer can imagine the future of lamb girl. Most likely, her father will take her away from people forever. He took revenge and no longer wants evil. This is clear from his gesture in the final, when he threw the gun into the grass. The mutant just got his child back. And even if the girl is afraid of him at first, she will most likely get used to her new life among her own kind.
You can recall the conversation between Maria and Ingvar at the beginning of the film about the possibility of people moving in time. Only with the help of such a leap over the years would we have known what would happen next with the heroes of the film and would have found our own explanation for the ending. But Maria is unlikely to look for Ada. She realized that it was foolish to resist the forces of nature, that she had already made a mistake. Her life is destroyed, retribution took place. It remains only to reconcile with fate.